Valpo looks at long-term water supply needs
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent August 31, 2012 2:54PM
Updated: October 2, 2012 6:05AM
VALPARAISO — This summer’s drought has raised concerns about the city’s northern wells, which in a small test did not produce the amount of water expected.
To make sure the city will have a reliable water supply for the next 20 to 30 years, the Valparaiso Utility Board has extended a contract with consultant Malcolm Pirnie/Arcadis to take an in-depth look at the eight Flint Lake area wells.
The consultant will also look at whether purchasing water in bulk from a source such as Indiana American Water Co. is a viable alternative. The city will pay the firm $95,000 for the two additional projects.
The original study looked at building a new well field northeast of the Porter County Regional Airport and cost $25,000.
“If we’re going to make an investment in a well field, we need to look at the city holistically,” assistant utilities director Steve Poulos said.
The utilities department tested the Flint Lake wells this summer because the drought stressed the system, and the department wanted to confirm engineering productivity estimates.
The eight wells in the Flint Lake area showed a productivity gap of about 1.3 million to 1.5 million gallons a day during a few hours’ test, Poulos said at the Utility Board meeting this week.
However, the test was for a short period and wasn’t considered reliable.
Malcolm Pirnie/Arcadis will consider the Flint Lake area wells in depth by pilot testing them while the city uses the airport wells as back up.
“We will be stress testing the north Flint Lake plant to see the true productivity of those eight wells over a three- to four-day period,” Poulos said.
The wells near Flint Lake are 20 to 24 years old, while the current eight at the airport, not relied on now, are 30 to 45 years old, which is usually the lifespan of a continuously used well, Poulos said.
The study will also consider opening other well fields to supply water to the city and dividing the town into zoned areas.
If Valparaiso does get bulk water from an outside company like Indiana American Water, there would also be problems with mixing the water, Poulos said.
The city considered bulk water from an outside source in 2006 but did not use that possibility.
However, it has retained contact with municipalities like Crown Point and Schererville that use bulk sources, Utilities Director John Hardwick said. Poulos said if getting bulk water is shown to be a viable alternative, it will take time and a lot of public input to make the decision.